Re: photochemical advance

From: James Rogers (
Date: Sun Dec 09 2001 - 23:24:27 MST

On 12/9/01 7:43 PM, "Damien Broderick" <>
> At 06:51 PM 12/9/01 -0800, James Rogers wrote:
>> [No], Because we are pretty close to the upper bounds of energy efficiency
>> from a
>> physical engineering standpoint. ...
>> There are some systemic improvements that would improve efficiency (e.g.
>> distributed power rather than centralized in certain cases)
> I'm no expert in this, but I don't believe that statement can be correct.
> The energy that First World nations squander on air conditioning, for
> example, could surely be slashed by some simple design/fashion
> changes--roads and roofs that reflect heat in summer, tree planting for
> seasonally appropriate cooling and pleasurable viewing in one convenient
> package, wall & floor heat sinks, optimized air flow, all that.

I don't disagree with you at all. What I was saying is that the core
technologies are very good, but what is used and how it is used is driven by
a great many factors that have nothing to do with overall energy efficiency.
For almost all applications, energy efficiency is traded for other forms of
utility (cost, shape, size, etc). It is only in the most extreme (and
expensive) applications that you see truly efficient energy utilization, and
even then only because energy efficiency is valued above all other

So yes, we can engineer things with high theoretical efficiency right now,
but we rarely do because energy efficiency isn't the only thing of value in
the world. Energy efficiency IS valued highly (most energy consuming
devices in the U.S. have very visible energy consumption metrics attached to
them when you buy them), but not at the expense of every other valuable
property of the energy consuming device. For example, you could put a V6
engine in my big truck and get by for 98% of what I do, but it is that last
2% that requires 5.8L V8. The cost of lower energy efficiency for most
tasks is less than the cost of owning a bunch of specialized vehicles that
are energy optimized for their specific task. It is a lot cheaper to own a
truck that can do everything reasonably well that I would want a truck for
than to own two or three that are optimized for every task. Of course,
nanotech will fix all that.

-James Rogers

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